Dress Yourself Into a New Job

Photo by Kaitlyn Piccoli

Photo by Kaitlyn Piccoli

By Tanya Wayne

It’s Monday and the day of the big interview for your dream job. You want to give off a professional vibe. So, what is the one thing that will make you seem more professional and get you that position you’re interviewing for? Dressing appropriately.

You always want to make a good first impression. While you should never judge a book by its cover, when it comes to an employer, the one thing that makes or breaks it is how you appear. “The second you meet them you want to send a loud and clear message that you’re a serious candidate,” says Fred Burke, the executive director of Hofstra’s Career Center.

Although first impressions may not always be right, they are vital to your interview. “Keep in mind that most likely this is the first time you are meeting your

interviewer,” says Melissa Burke, the College Relations Manager for Macy’s East and who also ran the Career Center’s “Dress for Success” program. She is in charge of holding the fashion shows that show students what to wear at a career fair, in the interview and at the actual job.

“For a job interview it is safe to keep it professional and simple,” advises Melissa Burke. “You don’t want your interviewer to be distracted by your outfit. You want to make a positive impression.”

The new Director of Communications at Hofstra Law School, Sun Min, was hired by many companies before coming to campus. She worked for ABC’s “20/20,” CBS’s “48 Hours,” and as a TV reporter and anchor for WSIL TV in Illinois. Employers hired Min for all these positions because she dresses the way she wants to be represented. “How you look on an interview is important. They don’t know you or what you bring to the table right away, says Min. I’ve always worn pants suits. I’ve never had a problem getting a job wearing pants suits. I feel like they portrayed me the way I wanted to be portrayed: serious, respectful, conscientious.”

Yes, suits are always the way to go when trying to figure out what to wear. What you wear is going to talk to the interviewer before you do, and a suit will only say positive things.

“I’m always impressed when people walk in a suit,” says Halima Nooradeen, a recruiter for two years at Career Blazers, an employment agency in Manhattan.

Dominick Kortkamp, a senior partner for the Long Island branch of New York Life Insurance, echoed the same sentiment, “Business attire always. Suits for men and skirts or professional pants for women.” Kortkamp tries to find employees for the company’s financial services business.

What you wear may be a deciding factor if you get the position or not, even if you have all the credentials and experience.

“I can definitely say that we are looking for a professional appearance,” replies Melissa Burke, when asked about how she expects someone to come dressed for an interview at her place of employment. “There are times I have seen some interesting outfits and I have definitely had to ask myself the question ‘am I really seeing this right now?’ If we want you to be an executive of our company, we want to see that you can dress the part.”

Of course, Melissa Burke has her opinion on what to wear for a job interview.

“For women, I would recommend a conservative suit in pants or a skirt of appropriate length, paired with a solid color colored button-up shirt or camisole,” says Melissa Burke. She recommends that men wear a “conservative suit, long-sleeved, a button-up shirt, a complimenting tie and a professional shoe with dark socks.”

Students may also want to invest in an iron and ironing board. Both Nooradeen and Fred Burke mentioned that having the clothes nicely pressed is another way to look good on a job interview.

“The job market is getting competitive. The student that takes the time to look crisp will have the best chance at getting the job,” says Fred Burke. He also advised to make sure that the clothes fit properly, nothing too tight or too big, as well as having all pants hemmed if they are too long.

“You don’t want to look like you’re wearing your mother’s clothing,” says Min, “It’s important to get it tailored to your body.”

Melissa Burke advises men to do the same with their interview clothing. “Guys, it is important to get your measurements for a suit and shirt. Most retailers that sell men’s suits offer fittings; don’t be afraid to ask.”

Girls should also make sure their skirts or dresses go to their knees. Nothing shorter and nothing longer for that matter is appropriate.

When deciding what to wear, remember that solid prints and dark colors are always best. “I’ve never hired anyone who has worn bright neon colors or bright pumps,” says Noradeen.

Speaking of shoes, girls, make sure you can walk in the heels before wearing them to the interview. “You want to look confident and it is hard to do so if you are wobbling in high heels. Keep the heel moderate,” said Melissa Burke.

You also don’t want your facial expression to read “I’m in pain.” This can also take points away from your interview process, as it can be misinterpreted. You want to look focused on the interview.

When dressing for an interview, remember to have only one spray of your favorite perfume or cologne on. You want the interviewer to focus on you, and too much of it can be very distracting. Jewelry should also be kept and a minimum for guys and girls. “Men should make sure all earrings are removed,” said Kortkamp.

Kortkamp also advises that when going in for the interview, anyone with tattoos should cover them up with clothing.

“Always best to be more conservative,” says Fred Burke. When it comes to tattoos, he also recommends covering them up for the interview.

While it may be a better idea to invest in one good suit, you don’t have to break the bank to look amazing and get a position. Employers know that college students usually don’t have a lot of money.

“Just make an effort to look nice,” said Nooradeen. “It doesn’t have to be an expensive outfit.”

Makeup for a girl can be just as essential as what she wears on a job interview. If you use a lot of makeup, it may give the wrong idea to your potential employer. For those who normally do not use makeup or are afraid to try it, a little bit never hurt anyone. When done properly, it can make you look better and give you a boost of confidence.

“The professional, successful woman almost always has tasteful, slightly elegant makeup,” said Piera Canu, a makeup artist who has been all over the world doing makeup for celebrities and royalty. “Here, of course, you need to have a very clean, neat and professional look. I would say never too much makeup, but also never no makeup,” said Canu,

Sally Duvall is a self taught makeup artist who was an assistant to the late

Kevyn Aucoin. While working with Aucoin, she did makeup for celebrities like Heidi Klum, Britney Spears, and Sarah Jessica Parker. For a job interview, Duvall recommends “tinted moisturizer, concealer, a pink or peach blush, mascara and a tinted lip balm.” The bottom line is “done but not overly done,” said Duvall. “A ton of makeup can make you look high maintenance.”

“Less is always more. You don’t want to look overdone,” said Anabelle LaGuardia, a 1992 Hofstra graduate and makeup artist with 10 years of experience. LaGuardia has done makeup for Victoria Secret models and Deborah Norville from Inside Edition. She has also appeared on makeover segments for talk shows like Montel Williams. “For an interview, makeup should be soft, clean and understated. No glitter, shimmer or bright colors. If you walk in too made-up the interviewer will be distracted and not listen fully to what you are saying, or take you seriously for that matter.”

Richard Calcasola, who has been in the beauty industry for 40 years and is the founder of Maximus Spa and Salon on Long Island, believes that if you are going for a job interview somewhere conservative your makeup “should be a little bit understated.” “If you’re applying for a job at a high-end fashion boutique, your makeup can be a little more edgier,” said Calcasola. “You want to fit in the culture you’re hoping to get the job at.”

When it comes to doing makeup for a date, it all depends where you are going. When going on a daytime date, your makeup should be almost the same as going on an interview. “For that, you would keep the makeup in more of the neutral, softer, warm tones,” said LaGuardia.

Then again, most dates are in the evening, with the romantic dinner and a movie scenario. This is the time you can feel free to experiment with color and have a little more fun with your makeup. “Makeup for a date should be an extension of who you are, you’re personality,” said Calcasola. LaGuardia recommends that when working with color to focus on the eyes because they are “what people look at.” “Some of the looks going right now are the smoky blues, charcoals, and plums,” said LaGuardia. “Always remember that when playing up the eyes, go for a neutral colored lip.”

“I think anything can work in moderation, but definitely lay off the heavy or dark

Lipstick. No guy is going to want to kiss a heavily made up lip; it’s not really sexy,” said Duvall. “Have fun with it and experiment. And learn to do a great smoky eye. It’s every woman’s secret weapon.”

All in all, makeup can help you. Do not be afraid to go to any cosmetic counter in a mall and ask a makeup artist for help if you need it. “Good makeup highlights your best features and covers up your little imperfections and flaws,” said Canu. “You do want to make a good impression, don’t you?”

Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 4:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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